Nebraska reports first 2021 human case of West Nile Virus

(Undated) -- Nebraska reports its first human case of West Nile Virus for the 2021 season, just days after two mosquito pools tested positive for the virus.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says the infection was found in the area of the Elkhorn-Logan Valley Public Health Department, which covers Stanton, Madison, Cuming and Burt Counties. DHHS says the infected person was not hospitalized. Earlier this week, DHHS detected West Nile in two mosquito pools in Scottsbluff County.

The virus is the most common of mosquito-borne illnesses in the United States and Nebraska’s infection rate is among the highest in the nation. In 2020, the state recorded one death from West Nile among 15 people who were infected, 10 of whom required hospitalization, DHHS said. The disease has been detected in Nebraska every year since 2002, and the DHHS said more than 4,000 people have been infected since then, and 86 have died.

Symptoms include fatigue, eye pain, fever, vomiting. Some infected people will have no symptoms, and less than 1% will develop meningitis or encephalitis, a potentially deadly inflammation of the brain. To avoid infection, the agency said, people should wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks when outdoors, drain standing water, avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn — when mosquitoes are most active — and use an insect repellant that contains DEET.

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